A Georgia state judge confirmed Monday that he will hold an evidentiary hearing Thursday on allegations that embattled prosecutor Fanny Willis was involved in an “improper” case.
Willis has been accused of having an “inappropriate” relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade, whom she hired to help prosecute former President Donald Trump in a sweeping racketeering case related to the 2020 election. The allegations were first made by Trump’s co-defendant, Michael Roman, who said that Willis’ alleged behavior should result in her and her team being removed from the case.
Willis, who acknowledged a personal relationship with Wade but denied any conflict of interest, asked the court to cancel the evidentiary hearing scheduled for later this week.
“In examining the law that has been presented up to this point, I think it is clear that disqualification can occur if evidence is presented that establishes an actual conflict,” Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said at a hearing Monday to consider those motions. Or the emergence of a real conflict. “The files submitted regarding this case so far have presented a conflict of evidence that cannot be resolved from a legal standpoint.”
Fulton County DA Fannie Willis acknowledges her personal relationship with the district attorney but denies a conflict of interest
“Looking specifically at Defendant Roman’s motion, he alleges a personal relationship that resulted in a financial benefit to the prosecutor. This is no longer a matter of complete speculation. The state has acknowledged the existence of a relationship. Thus, what remains to be established is the existence and extent of Any financial benefit.”
“Therefore, because I believe it is possible that the facts alleged by the defendant could result in disqualification, I believe an evidentiary hearing should be held to establish a record of those underlying allegations,” he said.
In legal filings last month, Roman alleged that Wade billed Fulton County for 24-hour workdays in November 2021, shortly after she was appointed special prosecutor, and that Willis benefited financially from her alleged lover’s taxpayer-funded salary. They took lavish vacations together on His two cents.
Wade, who has no experience with RICO and criminal prosecution, has billed taxpayers $654,000 since January 2022, according to court documents.
Judge McAfee said on Monday that the “details” of Wade’s experience would be irrelevant at the evidentiary hearing, which will be held on Thursday, February 15, adding “in my mind as long as a lawyer has a heartbeat and a bar card.” “The appointment of counsel alone is a matter within the discretion of the Prosecutor.”
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McAfee said the issues “at this point” here are “whether a relationship exists, whether that relationship is romantic or non-romantic in nature, when it was formed and whether it lasts. This is only important because it is coupled with the question of existence.” and the extent of any personal benefit conveyed as a result of their relationship.”
Willis responded to the allegations in a lawsuit and admitted to having a “personal” relationship with Wade but denied any conflict of interest. As she claimed, According to Georgia law, In order for a prosecutor to be forcibly removed from a case, the conflict of interest must be harmful to the defendant’s case.
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Willis told the Supreme Court that although the accusations against her were “scurrilous”, they had no “merit”.
Willis claims that although she and Wade “have been professional partners and friends since 2019,” there was “no personal relationship” between her and Wade in November 2021 at the time of Wade’s appointment, and that Roman and his attorneys “are not providing any support to Wade.” Their insistence that the exercise of any prosecutorial discretion (i.e. indictment or plea recommendation) in this case was influenced by any personal relationship.”
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Roman’s motions “attempt to lump together the completely unremarkable circumstances of Wade’s special prosecutor’s appointment with completely irrelevant allegations about his personal family life into an artificial conflict of interest on the part of the prosecutor,” Willis’ filing said.
Judge McAfee decided that Terrence Bradley, Wade’s former law partner, would testify first on Thursday and that his testimony would determine whether others would be asked to testify.
The state also revealed that DA Willis’ father will testify on Thursday, remotely from California.
The court allocated the entire day of Thursday and Friday for this session, and perhaps more time if necessary.